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Children's Health

1.3 Million Infants Injured Each Year

Falls Are Most Common Cause of Infant Injury
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WebMD Health News
Reviewed by Louise Chang, MD

May 6, 2008 -- Every 90 seconds, an injured infant enters a U.S. emergency room, the CDC calculates.

Each year an estimated 1.3 million babies sustain nonfatal, accidental injuries serious enough to send them to emergency departments, according to data collected from 2001 through 2004 through a national surveillance system supported by the CDC and the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission.

What's the most common cause of infant injury? Falls, which account for more than half of all seriously injured children. What's most likely to cause a nonfatal infant injury? Beds and cribs.

But these risk factors change dramatically as children become more mobile. Stairs, for example, aren't a major risk to 1-month-olds, but they're the biggest risk to 12-month-olds.

"The study ... demonstrates a shifting trajectory of risk during the first year of life," note CDC researchers Karin A. Mack, PhD, and colleagues.

The most dangerous things for infants change according to the child's age:

  • Beds are linked to the most injuries up to age 12 months, mostly because infants fall, roll, or slide off them.
  • Car seats are among the top three products linked to infant injury up to 6 months of age (mostly because kids lurch out of them or because the car seat falls with the child strapped to it). But after age 6 months, car seats drop out of the top 10 causes of child injury.
  • Infant walkers are among the top 10 products linked to infant injury for 6- to 10-month olds.
  • Stairs rank among the top 10 products linked to injury at every age, but climb in rank with age. One important cause of stairway injury is when a caregiver carrying a child falls on the stairs.
  • Stroller-related injuries peak between 2 and 4 months of age. They drop out of the top 10 after age 9 months.

The leading causes of infant injury are:

  • Falls (170,000 annual injuries)
  • Being struck or crushed by an object (other than a vehicle or a machine), a person, or an animal (more than 44,000 annual injuries)
  • Fire or burn injuries (more than 17,000 annual injuries)

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